Monday, July 22, 2013

More From the Chronicles of Wasted Time

Since I wrote my last “Notable People” post I've remembered a few more.  I've been waiting some time to post this as I sincerely hope that this will be the last post of this sort.


In the Fall of 1992 I was finishing up my University of Nevada journalism degree by serving as an intern for two aviation magazines, Private Pilot and Kitplanes.  These magazines are both owned by the same publisher and, at that time, worked out of the same office in Orange County, California.

A lot of interesting things happened while I was there, but the most memorable thing was when an editor from each of these magazines and I were sent up to the Santa Monica airport to do a story on Dick Rutan and a new high-performance aircraft he was investigating.

Rutan is well-known for piloting the Voyager – the first plane to fly around the world without refueling.  It was designed and built by Rutan’s brother Burt and the aircraft is now displayed in the Smithsonian.

Anyhow, we flew up to the Santa Monica airport, met Rutan and the builder of the Berkut, an aircraft based on a design by Burt Rutan.

We took of in a three-plane formation – the Berkut, piloted by Rutan, a video camera plane and we were in a Grumman Tiger taking stills.

We talked with Rutan quite a bit as he and the designer were explaining the Berkut’s features to us.  The conversation was mostly technical and we did not share a lot of “small talk.”

Rutan was running for Congress in the election that fall (he lost) and he had somewhere to go as soon as we landed.  Until I was investigating this story online I had forgotten that I wrote the story that appeared in the magazine about this subject.


Sometime around 1990 I went to Ohio for an extended visit.  I decided to take my dog, Morgan, with me, so I purchased a travel cage for her.  Just before she was taken into the baggage I gave her a sedative so that she would sleep.  I had a couple of hour layover in LA and I made arrangements with the airline to have her brought out to the luggage retrieval area so that I could take her for a walk during this time.

Morgan & her daughter Muzo at McLeod Lake near
Mammoth Lakes, California
As I was walking through the LA terminal I noticed two blond young women cross the walkway some distance ahead of me.  As I neared where I'd seen them cross they came out of a shop and now I was close enough to them, about 20 yards, to see that they were twins and uncommonly attractive.

They went on their way and I mine.  I retrieved Morgan and let her out of her cage.  Putting the leash on her I headed outside to find a place to walk.  As I approached the door I heard a woman behind me say, "That's a beautiful dog."

I turned to thank her and saw that it was the twins.  I stopped and they gushed over Morgan for a few minutes.  We exchanged pleasantries and after a few moments we went our separate ways.

I'm not sure how long after this, but it wasn't long, these twins, their names are Sia and Shane Barbi, were on the cover of a major magazine and featured prominently in a story inside.  They also had best selling swimsuit calenders for several years around that time.


In 1974 when I started teaching skiing at Sandia Peak in the Cibola National Forest in New Mexico.  There was a Forest Service Snow Ranger working there named Pete Totemoff.  Some of my co-workers worked for the Forest Service in the summer (as I would come to do).  They told me that this Pete was a somewhat well-known character.  Sports Illustrated had named him one of America's top Skiers a few years earlier. 
He was one of the Forest Service's top winter sports experts and had laid out a lot of ski areas built on National Forests in Colorado and New Mexico, including Taos Ski Valley.  There is a run named for him at Taos.

He was also a top Fire Boss, being sent to put out forest and brush fires all over the Western U.S.

I skied with him a few times that winter although he wasn't at Sandia often.   Then, the following Spring, when I was hired as a Forest Ranger, he ended up being my boss's boss.  Again I didn't see him often as he was frequently gone on some other assignment.


I finished up my Bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Nevada, attending classes there from 1988 to 1992.  Bob Laxalt, the author of Sweet Promised Land, was associated with the J-School as he ran the University of Nevada Press.

Bob was the son of a Basque sheepherder and a very friendly guy.  His book is about his immigrant Father's return to his Basque country homeland in northern Spain after a fifty year absence. 

Bob and I got along well.  He knew I was a Forest Ranger and when we spoke he would "threaten" to come up to Truckee and show me some Basque Tree Carvings which would "knock my socks off."  (These carvings have a reputation for being somewhat risque.)

Bob was the brother of Paul Laxalt US Senator from Nevada and Reagan's campaign manager for his Presidential runs.


Click here and here to see the other posts about notable people.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day Tribute

On this Independence Day I think about the many people in my life who have served our country.  I am grateful for their sacrifice and willingness to serve.  For some of these people their military service was just a minor detour in life and maybe even a bit of an adventure.  Some found years of discomfort, fear and drudgery and others gave that “last full measure of devotion.”

My apologies to anyone I may miss.

Of course the first person I think of is my Dad, William Locker Jr., who served in the US Navy from 1947 to 1950.  This was very fortunate for me since he met Mom in Charleston, South Carolina where he was stationed.  It’s hard for me to imagine how they would have ever met if Dad hadn’t joined the Navy.

81st Division Emblem
Both my Grandfathers served.  Grandpa William Locker Sr. in the US Navy in the 1920’s and Daddy Con, Cornelius Callahan, with the 81st Division in WWI.

My best childhood friend David Bryant served in the US Army in Vietnam in 1967 & 1968.  He died there on February 8, 1968.

My good friend George Youngerman was an artilleryman in the US Army in Vietnam.  He was killed on April 1, 1971.

My cousin Daniel Meade, a Corporal in the US Army in Vietnam was from New York.  I barely knew him as he was quite a bit older than me.  He was killed the same day as David, February 8, 1968.

My Uncle Johnny Cranford, husband of my Mom’s sister Jo, served as a rifleman in the 45th Division in Africa, Sicily, Italy, France and Germany from ‘42 to ‘45.  No US unit spent more time in combat than the 45th Division.

45th Division Emblem
My Uncle Bob Coehick, husband of my Dad’s sister Norma, served as an Army combat engineer in Korea in ‘52 and ‘53.

30th Division Emblem
My cousin Roland “Jack” Hale was fatally wounded fighting the Nazis in February of ‘45 while serving with the 30th Infantry Division.

Hawaiian Division Emblem
My cousin Vernon “Bud” Hale (Jack’s brother) served with the US Army’s Hawaiian Division.  He was at Schofield Barracks in Hawaii on December 7th, 1941.

James Tipton was the older brother of one of Dad’s best friends from his youth.  Jim joined the US Armed Forces in the late 30’s while he was still in his teens.  After finishing his training, Jim had the misfortune to be assigned to the Philippines Division.
Philliipines Division Emblem
His unit fought in the Battle of Bataan.  He survived the battle and then endured the Bataan Death March.  When he was liberated after the war he weighed less than 80 pounds.

 My nephew Mason Maxwell served in the US Army in Korea and Indonesia.  He suffered a permanent disability from injuries suffered during rescue efforts in the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami.

US Marine Corps Emblem

My Uncle Tom Callahan served in the US Army from 1946 to 1948 in the Aleutian Islands.

My cousins Bobby, Mark & Craig Cox all served.  Bobby & Mark in the US Marine Corps in California during and just after the Vietnam era.  Craig was in the US Army sometime later.

I also wanted to mention my Uncle Reggie Whitby.  He did not serve in the US Armed Forces, but he contributed to the cause of freedom during WWII as a member of the Royal Air Force.

To each and every one of these fine men I offer my sincerest gratitude.